With the forecast and humidity levels reaching above-average temperatures, Environment Canada is hoping people take the necessary precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.

At 3:19 p.m. today, Environment Canada issued a heat warning for Winnipeg, southeast Manitoba and the Red River Valley for the next couple of days.

Daytime temperatures will be near 32 degrees, and nighttime won't go lower than 16 degrees.

"Typically, the main concern is often the nighttime temperature," says Natalie Hasell, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist at Environment Canada. "If it's too warm, you don't really get a chance to cool off, so that adds to the stress of the situation. If you can't cool off in the overnight period, it becomes harder and harder to deal with the heat during the day."

In preparation for this heat wave, Hasell encourages Manitobans to check their air conditioner is in proper shape to handle these extreme and constant temperatures. 

She also notes that with the lingering haze in the air from the wildfires in the province and across the prairies, residents should consider checking the filter on their air conditioning unit.

"Drinking cool or cold drinks typically helps. You could, if you have a fan, put ice cubes in a bowl and put that bowl in front of a fan and it will blow cold air onto you. It's actually surprisingly effective, although shortlived admittedly."

Here are some tips to prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • drink plenty of liquids, especially water, before feeling thirsty;
  • avoid prolonged sun exposure;
  • cancel outdoor activities or reschedule them to cooler times of the day;
  • for those working outdoors, take breaks often and stay hydrated;
  • wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing and a wide-brimmed hat;
  • limit alcohol consumption;
  • close awnings, curtains or blinds to block out the sun at home;
  • take a cool shower or bath; or
  • go to an air-conditioned building such as a mall, community centre, public library or place of worship.

Hasell suggests that Manitobans shouldn't just make sure they are feeling okay during this heat wave, but check in with others—neighbours, construction crews who work outside, and the homeless.

Considering the haze in the air, those who are sensitive to smoke and heat are more at risk during this heat warning. This includes infants and young children, older adults, outdoor workers, pregnant women, and those who suffer from chronic cardiovascular/diabetes/kidney illnesses and mental illnesses.

"Typically, it's not the illness itself, but the medication someone might be on to deal with the situation could make them more susceptible to the heat. So, if you or someone you know is on medication either for a chronic situation or an acute situation, call up your doctor, call up your pharmacists and ask the question."

If someone is suspected to be ill from the heat, check them for these symptoms:

  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • dizziness;
  • lack of urination or dark-coloured urine;
  • weakness or tiredness;
  • mood changes;
  • muscle cramps; or 
  • rapid breathing or pulse.

Although Manitoba has seen temperatures this high in the past, Hasell notes that the province is in the midst of experiencing above-average temperatures.

"It's not unheard of. We have hot weather in May in previous years in southern Manitoba, but looking at the average values that we would see this time of year, typically daytime high is plus 22, not plus 30. So, we're talking about temperatures that are close to or even more than 10 degrees off, similar to the nighttime temperature. But if we look at tomorrow night or Saturday morning, temperatures are supposed to be 18, while more average values for overnight lows are plus 7."

Environment Canada forecasts that this heat wave will persist into the first week of June, with a small chance of a heat break on Monday.